Shutterfly.com is an online photo sharing and printing service based in Redwood City, CA. Best known for its line of customizable photo books, Shutterfly was created in 1999 and went public in 2006. They company's customer base is heavily skewed toward women, who made up 80% of its users in 2013. In August of 2014, Shutterfly had 2.6 million customers with 4.2 million orders generated.
Shutterfly has several sister companies, which include Tinyprints, Wedding Paper Divas, Treat, Borrowlenses and This Life.
- Free accounts
- Editing tools
- Keepsake and gift items
All Shutterfly accounts are free and feature unlimited photo storage, as well as unlimited file sizes for photo and video uploads. Once you create a Shutterfly account, you can choose to upload files from a computer, mobile device, iPhoto, Facebook, Instagram or Picasa. If you have a very large group of images to upload, you can mail them to Shutterfly on a CD or DVD, and Shutterfly will then upload the images to your account for free.
Shutterfly has a simple editing tool for uploaded images. You have the option to crop, apply a border, apply a color effect, rotate and fix red-eye. There is also a Videogram feature that enables you to compile photos and music into a shareable video for friends and family. Both of these tools are free to use with your Shutterfly account.
The biggest benefit of using Shutterfly is gaining access to its keepsake and gift items. You can choose from photo books, cards, stationery, prints, calendars, home décor items, posters and many other photo gifts. Shutterfly offers templates and tips for items like photo books and stationery, so you'll be able to easily create appealing gift items even if you don't have any previous experience.
Shutterfly has a Help Center in which you can search specific questions and find answers in the FAQs. Shutterfly does not offer tutorials but does feature some free design tips throughout the site.
If you'd like to share your photos, you'll need to send notifications to friends and family members through Shutterfly. Shared albums and photos are not made available to the general public, however anyone who has received a share link can view, save or re-share the photos, as well as order prints and other gift items featuring those photos. You can also protect your photos with a password, so only those who know the password can see your images. If you'd like to get a bit more social, you can share your Shutterfly photos to Facebook or other social media sites - however Facebook is the only social network that can be linked directly to your Shutterfly account at this time.
- Limited storage
- Limited accepted formats
- No online community
A major downside of using Shutterfly for storage is the way it limits your download options. You can upload large or high-resolution photos to Shutterfly and the site will save them at full-size - however you won't be able to download them at full-size. If you're sharing with friends and family so that they can also use the images, a simple right-click won't let them download the photo at its fullest quality. This is somewhat of a security measure, however it could also limit your sharing capability - or the ease with which you can retrieve photo files if you don't have them saved anywhere else than Shutterfly. To get full-size copies of all your files on Shutterfly, you'll have to pay a small fee and have an archive CD created that will then be mailed to you. The CD will cost you $9.99 and up, depending on how many images you have.
Photo files must be in JPEG format to upload them to Shutterfly. If you commonly have PNG or other formats, this may create an inconvenience for you because you'll have to convert the files to JPEG before uploading.
Shutterfly may not be best for amateur or professional photographers, as it doesn't offer any online community, method for obtaining feedback or tutorial resources. In addition, the limited sharing options will make it difficult to showcase work. The highly-secure sharing and the ample gift item options make Shutterfly ideal for families looking to save their memories, though.
The Bottom Line
Shutterfly is okay: although we're a little bit wary of Shutterfly, the site seems to be a useful free resource overall. You'll be able to take advantage of unlimited uploads, decent editing tools, secure sharing methods and easy design templates for gift items. Remember that you won't be able to easily retrieve full-size copies of your photos, though; it may be best to use Shutterfly for sharing and creating gift items instead of as your sole storage location - be sure to back up copies of your photos elsewhere for quick (and cheaper) access to your photo files.